Under Armour’s success has been reliant on the ability to constantly innovate and differentiate itself from the bigger boys in the industry.
So, it keeps the place where it develops new products — dubbed the Under Armour “Innovation Lab” — fortified.
Bruce Horovitz at USA Today has written up a great profile of Under Armour co-founder Kevin Plank, and it reveals a remarkable tidbit about the lab, which is located in a high-security portion of its headquarters campus in Baltimore.
“This unmarked lab sits in the midst of a rather gritty headquarters campus whose next door neighbour is a steam-spewing Domino sugar refinery,” writes Horovitz. “The lab isn’t just the heart of the athletic performance wear maker. It’s also the soul. This super-secret lab is where shirts, shorts and running shoes go from concept to must-have item.”
The lab, which opened in 2011, even has a “state-of-the-art” scanner in front of a “vault-like” door which reads the pattern of the veins on the back of your hand. Only 20 of the 5,000 employees are allowed into the lab, which is protected by a “vault-like” door, according to USA Today.
Inside, it features an OptiTrack motion capture camera, high speed camera, environmental chamber and materials testing lab, among other things, reports the Baltimore Business Journal.
The mystique that has developed around the lab shows how serious the company is about its innovation processes. It’s everything to Under Armour, which is working on some crazy new products. For instance, it’s working on a shirt that may one day be able to read your vital signs and air condition your body appropriately.
Under Armour has been a hot performance-wear brand for the past few years. It’s trying to get to $2 billion in sales by the end of 2012, and even though it’s still just a tenth the size of Nike, it has made a big impact in the space.
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